Update on the Discovering Aidan Project

The Discovering Aidan Project has passed another landmark with the full funding for the project being approved by the Heritage Lottery Fund. A new article has been published by Tony Henderson in the Chronicle as well. The project will focus on the excavated Anglo-Saxon cemetery located just outside Bamburgh Castle.

St Aidans

St Aidan’s Church, Bamburgh

The Bamburgh Research Project, who undertook the initial excavation and worked with Professor Charlotte Roberts of Durham University on the analysis of the skeletons, will be working with the AONB to provide support and information on the research so the full story can be told. In parallel, we are again working with Professor Roberts to see that the full academic report is published as a book. It is an exciting time and we are very much looking forward to what will be a landmark publication for BRP.


Skeleton excavated in the Bole Hole excavation in 2004

We may not be excavating at the Bowl Hole any more but work at Bamburgh Castle continues and we would be delighted for you to join us excavating a 7th century AD horizon this summer.

HLF Logo

Lottery grant for the Bamburgh Heritage Trust

The plans for a new heritage centre at St Aidan’s Church, Bamburgh, that will bring the story of the early medieval Bowl Hole burials to life has taken a big step closer with the awarding of a development grant to the Bamburgh Heritage Trust by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The Bowl Hole Excavation Project was undertaken by Bamburgh Research Project (BRP) and Durham University and has produced a wealth of academic information about some of the earliest Christian inhabitants of Bamburgh. The burials are contemporary with the early medieval palace site currently under investigation within the castle by the BRP (places still available for this season’s excavation) and together give an extraordinary insight into what is often called the Golden Age of Northumbria.


Some of the early medieval skeletons on their way from the castle to St Aidan’s Church during the reburial ceremony in 2016

The new funding represents an important step forward in bringing these results to the wider public. If you have not already seen it then do read Tony Henderson’s terrific article in the Chronicle, which details the work undertaken at the Bowl Hole and the planned project outputs.

If you would like to take part in this years excavations at Bamburgh Castle and/or our prehistoric wetlands site at the Bradford Kaims, please contact field-school coordinator  colekelly@bamburghresearchproject.co.uk or visit www.bamburghresearchproject.co.uk.


Laying the Bowl Hole Skeletons to Rest

Skeleton been recorded

It seems both a long time ago and strangely almost like yesterday that we uncovered a cyst burial (a grave cut outlined with slabs of stone) and realised that we had identified the location of the lost burial ground at the Bowl Hole. Memory is a funny thing! Over the 15+ years since that weekend we have undertaken an extensive excavation, followed by a successful collaboration with Durham University, aimed at analysing the skeletons and understanding as far as we are able the story that they have to tell us.

The results have been fascinating and we very much look forward to sharing them with you in the future, through further academic papers, a long awaited monograph and, we hope, a popular publication and visitor centre. Much of this work lies in the months ahead but tomorrow a long awaited and important landmark in the story of the site will happen when we undertake the reburial of the skeletons at St Aidan’s church in Bamburgh. We always intended to rebury them following their study and ST Aidan’s, a church whose foundation is as old as the cemetery site, is the perfect place to be their final resting place.

You can read a little more about the service in the article below. If you have the chance to attend then please do.


Exciting news about the Bowl Hole early medieval burial ground

We are very happy to announce that we have received £1890.00 grant for additional carbon dates for the Bowl Hole skeletons from the Sustainable Development Fund of the Northumberland AONB.

excavation in 2005.JPG

The Bowl Hole early medieval cemetery site, excavated by the BRP between 1998 and 2007 has since been the subject of intensive scientific analysis by a team at Durham University led by Professor Charlotte Roberts. The results are very exciting and those of you with an interest in the academic papers produced so far should have a look on the website hosted at the university (https://www.dur.ac.uk/research/directory/view/?mode=project&id=278).

BRP are currently working with the Bamburgh Heritage Trust to see the skeletons respectfully re-interred in the crypt at St Aidan’s Church, Bamburgh, and to produce a new display bringing the research results to the attention of the public. The new dates will aid us in narrowing down phasing and greatly add to our ability to interpret this amazing site.

Royal Archaeological Institute Conference: Legacies of Northumbria.

Over the weekend the Royal Archaeological Institute held its annual conference. This year focused on the early medieval period in Northumbria. The conference began with a keynote lecture from Professor Dame Rosemary Cramp, a good friend of the BRP. The next few days saw a range of papers about fieldwork and research into this interesting period in NE England. Our own Graeme Young was on hand to give an overview of the BRP’s work over the past 10 years with a focus on the excavations undertaken in the west ward.

Graeme’s audience in the imposing Institute of Mining in Newcastle.

We also heard from regional projects such as the work undertaken at Binchester Fort by Durham University (click here to read more) and the recently completed Street House excavations that unearthed a very interesting and finds rich funerary assemblage. To see more on the Street House excavations please click here.

The conference concluded with visits to some of the most iconic early medieval sites in Northumbria, including Bamburgh Castle, Holy Island, Jarrow Monastery and Bede’s world.

Lindisfarne Priory with the castle in the background

Jarrow Monastery

Bede’s Worlds best attraction (in my opinion)

To learn more about the RAI please follow the link http://www.royalarchinst.org/

The story of ‘Find of the Day’

Last year the Bamburgh Research project teamed up on Twitter with other excavations across the country including Cosmeston Archaeology out of Cardiff University, the Silchester Dig run by Reading Uni and Binchester run by Durham Uni.

Over the course of the summer we were able to share our finds as they came out of the ground. This led to #findoftheday’ on twitter, in which we posted our favourite find of the day for everyone to see. Over time we were joined by other digs both in the UK and abroad.

To take a look at how the experiment progressed and the many wonderful finds we all discovered during the summer please click here

The BRP are ready for a re-match this summer!

Below are a few of our favourite finds from last year.

Early medieval brooch